Amal Graafstra snaps on a pair of black rubber gloves. “Do you want to talk about pain management techniques?” he asks. The bearded systems administrator across the table, who requested I call him “Andrew,” has paid Grafstra $30 to have a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip injected into the space between his thumb and pointer finger, and as Graafstra describes Lamaze-type breathing methods, Andrew looks remarkably untroubled, in spite of the intimidatingly high-gauge syringe sitting on the table between them.
Graafstra finishes his pain talk, fishes a tiny cylindrical two-millimeter diameter EM4012 RFID chip out of a tin of isopropyl alcohol, and drops it into the syringe’s end, replacing the RFID tag intended for pets that came with the injection kit. He swabs Andrew’s hand with iodine, carefully pinches and pulls up a fold of skin on the top of his hand to create a tent of flesh, and with the other hand slides the syringe into the subcutaneous layer known as the fascia, just below the surface.
Then he plunges the plastic handle and withdraws the needle. A small crowd of onlookers applauds. The first subject of the day has been successfully chipped.
Over the course of the weekend, Andrew would be one of eight people to undergo the RFID implantation among the 500 or so attendees of Toorcamp, a hacker conference and retreat near the northwest corner of Washington State. Graafstra’s “implantation station” was set up in the open air: Any camper willing to spend $30 and sign a liability waiver could have the implantation performed, and after the excitement of Andrew’s injection, a small line formed to be next.
And why volunteer to be injected with a chip that responds to radio signals with a unique identifier, a procedure typically reserved for tracking pets and livestock? “I thought it would be cool,” says Andrew, when we speak at a picnic table a few minutes after his injection. (The pain, he tells me, was only a short pinch, followed by a “weird feeling of a foreign body sliding into my hand.”)
Read more from this story HERE.